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“By Small Means”: Rethinking the Liahona

Title“By Small Means”: Rethinking the Liahona
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsGervais, Timothy, and John L. Joyce
JournalInterpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture
KeywordsAstrolabe; Dowry; Faith; Ishmael; Liahona; Marriage

The Liahona’s faith-based functionality and miraculous appearance have often been viewed as incongruous with natural law. This paper attempts to reconcile the Liahona to scientific law by displaying similarities between its apparent mechanisms and ancient navigation instruments called astrolabes. It further suggests the Liahona may have been a wedding dowry Ishmael provided to Lehi’s family. The paper displays the integral connection Nephi had to the Liahona’s functionality and how this connection more clearly explains the lack of faith displayed by Nephi’s band during the journey than traditional conceptions of its faith-based functionality.